Peter Hook visited a small gig venue in São Paulo today just to meet fans up close and to answer their questions. My wife and I had arranged the visit for the British Consulate who plastered the venue with their 'Music is GREAT' branding - and of course when you are talking about British music, it really is!
Hooky is something of a legend to music fans. From Joy Division in the seventies to New Order in the eighties and now with his band The Light (and DJ sets), he has travelled the world, bass in hand. He is now reminding fans how great some of those early songs really were.
The music industry globally is experiencing a period of rapid change at present. Record sales are collapsing, as streaming becomes the most popular way to consume music. Artists are heading out on the road to perform for fans and exploring new ways to earn a living from the music they create.
This is an important business for the UK. The music industry contributes about £3.8bn in value to our economy if you consider the combined income from publishing, live performance, and sales of recorded music.
It also employs around 111,000 people from the artists to the record company staff to the crews putting stages together at festivals.
And this is a big export business too. Britain is great at producing artists that people all over the world want to hear. UK music exports are worth around £2.2bn to the UK economy.
Britain is second only to the USA in our success at exporting the music of our artists to the world. Although as a nation we may only account for about 1% of the global population, one in eight albums sold everywhere in the world is by a British artist. In six of the past seven years, the biggest selling album in the world was by a British artist.
The UK music industry is a large source of domestic employment, a big exporter, but as we all know, music is about more than just business. People can document their lives by the songs they recall from key moments. Music is something emotional and this means that the success of the UK music industry is doing a fantastic job at selling Britain to the world.
Tourists visit the UK from all over the world just because of the music they love. People want to use the same Abbey Road crossing the Beatles used. They want to stand in the same London doorway as Ziggy Stardust. They want to see the Salford Lads Club or the location of the old Hacienda club when visiting Manchester just because they love The Smiths or New Order.
All these musical connections create a favourable impression of the UK and can help the diplomats when they are promoting British business and tourism to the world. Ask someone in Shanghai or São Paulo what they think of first when they meet a British person and it is likely they will respond The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Blur, New Order, Iron Maiden, Elton John, The Kinks, or The Rolling Stones.
Even the younger generation will react the same way, though they might reply Ed Sheeran, One Direction, or Ellie Goulding - British artists that are performing to millions of fans in stadiums around the world. Our reputation for creating great music means that it is easy to start a conversation with anyone anywhere.
Hooky has been doing his bit today - not only to meet the fans, but also to promote the health of the industry in general. Touring artists have a busy schedule so it's great to see that he could find time to come and answer anything the Brazilians threw at him!
Source for the music statistics: UK Music 'Measuring Music' published Sep 2014Suggest a correction